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I just rescheduled the appointment I missed two weeks ago because of my injury.  They are going to check my buttons and my progress since I started wearing my rubber bands.

I want to make a note here about the importance of taking responsibility for your own treatment.  One obvious component is in doing the things the ortho tells you to do, including:

  • wearing rubber bands or other contraptions as prescribed by your doctor
  • brushing/flossing well
  • keeping appointments

But another point that may not be obvious but that I think is really important is speaking up when you think something is not quite right.  For example, I had to go in to ask for ortho buttons to be reapplied, because my center teeth were hitting, and I was grinding them.  This wasn’t obvious to my doctor and his assistants, but it was obvious to me.  So I was the one who called and asked them about it, and they put the ortho buttons back on.

So I encourage all braces wearers, especially newbies, to speak up and ask questions.  Hey, you may be considered a nuisance (I probably am), but you’re paying a lot of money and are going through discomfort and putting in effort.  Nobody else knows what’s going on in your mouth better than you do.

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This morning, I realized I hadn’t written about the Magic Bullet blender, a lifesaver for braces newbies! My friend, who has Invisalign braces, told me, “You HAVE to get the Magic Bullet!” (www.buythebullet.com)

So I did.

  • It’s been my mushy food helper which was desperately needed when I was suffering most in the beginning, with new wires, new brackets, and the ortho buttons that made it difficult for me to chew.
  • Even though I have a regular size Braun blender (which is fabulous, by the way) I was happy to invest in a smaller blender that allows me to mush up smaller portions–it has two container sizes–and is also easier to clean.
  • Yes, you may have seen the Magic Bullet on an Infomercial. It’s nowhere as sturdy or likely long-lasting as the Braun blender, but I’m happy with it because it’s convenient. You can even take it with you to work or on travel.

I bought mine through Amazon for about $55, which is almost half the infomercial price. It comes with a lot of extra stuff that I don’t need; I’ll pass this on to a fellow braces wearer when I’m done.

I’m on the downslope! If I stick to the schedule — i.e., I wear my rubber bands–I will be done in 5 more months!

The state of the braces life:

  • Eating more things that are getting stuck in my braces. Nutty things, crackly things, fibrous things. I guess I’m more willing to live with the consequences of eating this stuff. Still looking forward to eating a sweet chewy dried date, after the braces come off.
  • Flossing and brushing is smooth. Still doing the flouride rinse almost daily.
  • Rubber bands are the key. My compliance affects the progress.
  • Not self-conscious at all about the braces, but the rubber bands are dorky, so I have taken them out for meetings.

Here are photos to show progress. Wish I had taken better photos earlier.

Week 2 (ortho buttons are keeping top/bottom teeth apart) and Month 7:

week2

month7

Yippee!!!!!

Got my teeth cleaned yesterday. Here I am, wire-free and teeth squeaky clean, right after the ultrasonic cleaning. (Got a “good job” nod from my dentist, by the way, on my regular cleaning. Nothing like braces to put the fear in me to floss, and brush well.)

6 months no wire

Compare with my Day 0 photo here.

Note: I still have ortho buttons on two molars, so my top and bottom teeth are separated. And below, with the wires and elastics back on. Next appointment, in 2 months.

6 months bands

11.05.07: addendum

I think it was at this point that I got new wires; no longer the pre-formed archwire. But rather a thicker wire that can be manipulated by the doctor as needed.

4 months since I got them on!

Almost two months since my last entry. I wish I could say that things on the braces front have been going swimmingly, to explain the long silence. Let the highlights of the last 2 months speak for themselves:

  • The new brackets on the back molars continue to be a pain in my cheeks.
    • Probably didn’t help that I rode a scooter and the helmet squeezed right on the brackets.
  • One of the brackets fell off — actually, I think I knocked it off when I was brushing my teeth. So the wire was sticking into my mouth for over a week while I was traveling abroad.
    • NOTE: My orthodontist told me that I should have contacted them and they could have directed me to an ortho where I was. Apparently there’s an orthodontist’s code that says wherever you are, you should be able to be made comfortable by a local orthodontist.
  • My front teeth hit and I started to grind my teeth again. So the buttons are back on.

The good news is that it’s possible that I may get these off earlier than the original one year plan. I’m not counting on it — and what’s most important is that the teeth are in a good place. Nevertheless, I am really looking forward to the end of this experience.

I haven’t posted for a while, because I’ve been busy getting settled into a new job, and frankly, my braces barely merited my attention.

That is, until yesterday, my second appointment, when the sliding doors on my Damon braces were yanked open (ow!), the first wire was pulled out, and a new thicker and square (versus round) arch wire was wrestled into place.

I was told that this would be less painful than the initial attachment; that this wire would work on “root torque”.  That didn’t sound any better than whatever torque was happening last time, and it certainly doesn’t feel better.  There’s a fair amount of discomfort on my gums, and it does feel more like it’s deep, so probably at the roots.   Through the discomfort, I’m amazed at how this technology works.

So, back to:

  • using the blender and eating soups
  • minimal smiling–because I’m cranky and when I smile my inner cheeks hit the new brackets on my last molars

The silver lining?  The buttons on my molars were ground down, so my teeth come together more, and when the pain subsides, I’ll be able to chew!!!!

A regular reader (you know who you are!) recently brought up a good point:

“Why are you talking so much about eating mushy foods? Is your pain tolerance that low?”

Great questions. I guess I forgot to mention that my teeth don’t meet except on two half-molar sized points. This means I can’t bite and can barely gnaw; no pizza, no crunchy veggies, no biting into a cookie… you get the picture. This is why I’m longing for crunchy food.

Why this indignity? When I got the braces on, one of my top teeth hit a bracket on a bottom tooth. This is not a good thing; either my top tooth would get chipped, or I’d bite off the bottom bracket. So to keep them apart, I got two little globs of plastic stuff on bottom molars, to separate my teeth.

Take a look.

It’s a small blob in height: button

And in width. buttontop Since I only have one on each side, ALL my chewing is one on the surface of one molar!

So, now you know. This explains my mushy food preference.
(Fortunately, this is not the plight of most braces wearers!)